What to Expect for your Insurance Rate after a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident, several factors could determine what happens to your car insurance rate. Your rate might go up if the police determine that the accident was the result of reckless driving on your part. You might not see a difference in your rates if the accident was the other driver’s fault. The severity of the accident and the overall cost of the claim you file can also play a part in your subsequent insurance rates.

Police Decide Which Driver is at Fault

The fault of any accident is partially determined by the authorities on the scene. The police will usually issue a traffic ticket to the driver who is at fault based on the traffic law that was broken. In complicated cases, the police may not determine fault until they can investigate further. Your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company can agree on who is at fault, or battle out the question through arbitration or a lawsuit. Although the police do not decide which driver was at fault for an accident, a traffic ticket weighs heavily against you. The adjuster will look at all aspects of the case and apply any mitigating factors. However, not every accident is the fault of one driver or the other. Sometimes drivers share fault.

What Happens When you are Found at Fault

If you are at fault, your insurance rates will probably increase as soon as the insurance companies reach a settlement, depending on your state’s laws. Causing an accident will put you in a higher risk category with the insurance company, so your rates will increase based on your new standing. The only time your rates would not increase after an accident that is your fault would be if you qualify for a special accident forgiveness discount through your insurance company. Otherwise, you should expect to pay more for your coverage in the near future.

What Happens When the Accident is not Your Fault

If the accident is completely the other driver’s fault, you will probably not notice any changes to your insurance rates. Since the other driver is responsible for the accident, any claims resulting from the collision are paid by the other driver’s insurance rather than yours. This is only true if the other driver is 100% responsible for the accident. If fault is shared among the drivers, your rates will probably increase if you were 50% or more at fault. This depends on your state’s particular laws.

Consequences Depend on Previous Driving Record

Sometimes your insurance rates will increase even if you were not at fault for the accident. If you have a spotty driving record, being involved in an accident of any kind can put you in a higher risk category. The time frame is different from company to company, but most insurance companies will raise your rates if you have had an accident or a traffic ticket within three years of your latest accident. They consider the new accident part of a pattern that reflects your driving behavior as risky, so they increase your rates because there is a higher chance that you will need to file a claim.

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